Review – Jo (TV Series, 2013)
Jo is the first TV series to make it to the UK in the latest trend to make French shows in English, sell them abroad and then dub them into French for the home market.
Joachim ‘Jo’ Saint-Clair (played by Jean Reno) is a veteran detective who has been a a drug abuser with an estranged daughter, Adele, from a liaison with a prostitute.
He has a young eyecandy sidekick (Bayard played by Tom Austen), a tough boss (played by Orla Brady), a pathogist (played by Wunmi Mosaku) and a a ferociously intelligent nerd colleague (played by Celyn Jones) to aid him in his investigation and a wisecracking nun (played by Jill Hennessy) to confide in.
The good points are:
- Jean Reno. Like Brian Cox, he could read the telephone directory and it would be watchable.
- Jo’s private life is fascinating and is a lot more interesting than the crimeS he solves.
- The pathologist and the nerdy sidekick provide an intellectual counterpoint to the raw emotion of Jo and are very well acted.
The bad points are
- The eye candy sidekick does not work for me at all nor does the tough boss.
- The plots of the crimes solved vary from the mind-numbingly obvious to the ‘where did that come from?’
- Assuming Spiral (Engerenages) and other such shows are vaguely correct about the French legal system, this bears no resemblance to it.
- Tied to the last point, this is a US cop series transplanted to France without changing the milieu at all other than the great use of Parisian landmarks.
The so-so points are
- Jill Hennessy does well with what is an odd role being a nun but also Jo’s sex interest but is woefully underused.
I really would like to have liked this more than I did but it would have needed major reworking for a second series which does not seem to be happening despite good ratings outside France, the ratings in France were deemed too poor (5.3m by the final episode) for a series costing €2 million per episode.
Out of ten, 5 or 6 for being a really valiant effort at something similar to Van der Valk in the 1970s – an English language police series set overseas.